Tuesday, August 04, 2015

More James White on the Version Issue: Either He Doesn't Know What He's Talking About or He's Lying -- Pt. 2

Like the series I did two weeks ago, I'm going to keep writing here on this until I'm done with an analysis of the video last week by James White.  This is part two (part one).

At about the 1:09:30 mark, White says there are numbers of ecclesiastical text positions because the teaching is vague purposefully.  That is extreme overstatement.   White should know and I believe does know that the fundamentals of this position, which is biblical and historical, are found in the historic confessions of faith and in the writings of the contemporaries of those confessions.  These kinds of statements are strategic for his followers.  I believe he feigns this kind of incredulity.

It is true that of those who hold what is being called the ecclesiastical text position, not everyone will agree on every single word of the New Testament text translated by the KJV committee.  They all agree in the preservation of all the Words and that all the Words must have been kept pure in all ages like the confession says.  That narrows it down to very few differences.  They believe there is a settled text, one already established, given testimony by the Holy Spirit through the church, just like He did the canon.  They all agree every word is important, but disagreement over a few words is vastly different than post-enlightenment, rationalistic textual criticism.

There was a uniformity for numerous generations in the belief that God has preserved every word, all of them, and made them available for every generation of believer.  Among the very few differences over a very harmonious, homogeneous text, they agreed on the doctrine.  Even when there was a movement toward replacing this view, it started in academia, not in the churches, in the pew.  There still may be a majority of professing believers who think they have a perfect Bible and haven't even grasped what is happening.  They are just thinking that someone has modernized the translation without knowing the underlying text was replaced -- a bait and switch.

The few differences between words in TR editions couldn't be and wouldn't be spun into an ejection of the entire text for a new one and a wholly different approach.  That wasn't faith in what God said.  That was doubt or uncertainty.  If this is going to be argued, those people and that position need to be represented in good faith.  White doesn't do that.  He stirs up a dust cloud of confusion for people.

After 1:10, White says that "as far as we know" there was never a church counsel and that the Westminster divines didn't examine manuscripts.  There's a lot to unpack just in those few points.  If you listen to White other times, you know he doesn't agree that canonicity of the books of the Bible comes out of church counsels.  He sees this as a Roman Catholic view.  I agree.  He says the canon is a theological issue.  With that belief, why does he apply a different standard here to the Words?  He will refer to the Protestant canon.  He doesn't have a problem saying that.  They didn't need a counsel, because there was agreement.  I don't agree that these men didn't look at manuscripts.  When you read John Owen, you know he looked at them.  White is conflating examination of manuscripts with rationalistic criticism of the text.  Consider what Richard Capel wrote in 1658:

[W]e have the Copies in both languages [Hebrew and Greek], which Copies vary not from Primitive writings in any matter which may stumble any. This concernes onely the learned, and they know that by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides among Christians do shake hands in this, that God by his providence hath preserved them uncorrupt. . . . As God committed the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to the Jewes, and did and doth move their hearts to keep it untainted to this day: So I dare lay it on the same God, that he in his providence is so with the Church of the Gentiles, that they have and do preserve the Greek Text uncorrupt, and clear: As for some scrapes by Transcribers, that comes to no more, than to censure a book to be corrupt, because of some scrapes in the printing, and 'tis certain, that what mistake is in one print, is corrected in another.

That well states their thinking, thinking that is not held or agreed upon by White.  He rejects the historic and biblical position because he staggers at the promise of God through unbelief (Romans 4:20).  White chooses theological presuppositions for canonicity, when the biblical basis for those same theological presuppositions applies equally to the text.  Textual variants are too great a hurdle, a barrier, and he stumbles over them.  He rejects the historic and biblical position and is willing to make hundreds of years of believers bibliological apostates to justify his position.

If you want to talk about vagueness, shortly before the 1:11 mark, White says that the Westminster divines would not have known what the text looked like at the beginning of the medieval period, like we do today.  I'm speaking of the idea of "what the text looked like."  How vague is that?  Are we talking about one hand copy, about the numbers of manuscripts that existed?  "What the text looked like"?  "The text"?  Like there was "the text" making it's way through history?

What White does is extrapolate back from the 19th century some kind of ongoing textual criticism through history, rather than an ongoing faith that God has preserved every Word, the attitude that believers would have always had in the Bible.  We know they had the latter and White ridicules that. It's as if in the 16th century after the advent of the printing press and a sudden explosion of publication of scripture that believers reached a bibliological dark age --  as if when they had more access to the Bible than ever, they were as dark on the doctrine of scripture as they had ever been.

White also talks at around 1:11 like he knows "what the text looked like" in the beginning of the fourth century and at the beginning of the sixth century.   He asserts that he knows and that those men didn't.  But he doesn't, at least through textual criticism. He doesn't know that.  He's only guessing.  White doesn't know what they had or didn't have then by some historical or documentary means.  We know by faith, but not by looking at what someone unburied.  Those are guesses, and that is vague.  I would say as vague as one could get, but one can get even more vague than White if he takes the same trajectory as White to its dubious end. White's approach is highly destructive.  It is faith smothering.  It is also dishonoring to God.  As much as White would want to keep salvation 100% divine with almost no human intervention, he's willing to throw the Bible into a test tube for man's experimentation.  Sovereignty becomes ironically a very taffy-like concept.

Shortly before 1:12, White goes apoplectic over a strawman that he erects, at most an entertaining bit of theater on his part.  He holds up a Trinitarian Bible society copy of the TR and asks when did they take that and agree on that, then he grabs a Nestles-Aland in his other hand asks when did they reject that?  What are White's assertions supposed to mean to someone?  He is ridiculing that entire several generations of believers as some kind of theological and intellectual neanderthals.  White is a tower, a monument, a giant, while they are rolling out the baby toys in the nursery.

White is making two points.  First, he doesn't have record that there was an ecumenical counsel of believers that got together to vote on what the words were.  That is supposed to debunk an ecclesiastical text position.  There is no record of that happening because that isn't what Christians believed.  They received what they had.  They believed they were in good shape. White is saying they weren't, but he's basing that on his presuppositions, that the text had been lost to them.

Second, they didn't textus rejectus, that is, they didn't again hold some counsel to reject the minority manuscripts.  The ecclesiastical position is that however that did occur, either that they didn't have it or they did know about it and they saw it as inferior, it did occur.  What looks to White as unavailable was rejected because of its lack of availability.  God's Words were kept pure through all ages, so if they didn't have it, there was a reason.  If you believe in the preservation of scripture, then what you don't have isn't preserved. That's kind of root to the idea of preservation.  If I look into the refrigerator for the jelly and there's no jelly, then jelly wasn't preserved for me.  I'm sorry I can't go into physical incantations as you read this so that my entertainment value can trump White's, because that is the best thing he's got going, that is, if you like that kind of thing.

White also argues from silence.  He says they, the Westminster folks, would have known about Calvin.  Known what?  They would have known that Calvin said he believed that one particular word was the right one above another, both available to him.  That was not an "aha" moment to them, as White portrays it should have been.  They couldn't figure that out?  The existence of a textual variant didn't shake them.  That wasn't a lack of preservation to them.  Not only would men make errors in hand copies, but they also know that there would be purposeful textual attack.  They still believe in perfect preservation of the Words, because they believed preservation was a divine task, like inspiration and salvation.  White believes God can save you from all your sins, He can preserve you through the heights and the depths, but He couldn't do the same for His own Words.  That is in fact where White is in this.

Around 1:13, White says that in 1689 they would not have known about the Trinitarian Bible society printed edition of Scrivener.  Total strawman.  That's not the position.  The translators translated from words.  They translated.  They were translators.  Those words were available.  They were kept pure in that age.  They believed that.  That's the position.  This is a game White is playing.  Understand that. White is playing a game.  When I read the books from that era, they often refer to the original language text.  Did they not believe they had an original language text?  When they wrote the LBC in 1689, they referred to the original language text.  Was there one?  Of course there was.  This is again just rhetoric from White.  It's not dealing with their doctrine, what they believed.  It's just dramatics, a show really.  If you agree with White, you are at least in tacit compliance to him, and you are a subscriber to his show, really like a reality TV show with a false front town.

More to Come.  I know I'm going snail pace, but this matters.

7 comments:

George Calvas said...

"They still believe in perfect preservation of the Words, because they believed preservation was a divine task, like inspiration and salvation."

So, are you saying that if the body of Christ believes that the Holy King James Bible is inspired scripture, the very WORDS of God, we do not believe in some biblical form of historic preservation?

No one can prove when the 66 books all came together as one complete book. I believe based on Revelation 22:18-19 that the book he is referencing is the bible, therefore the first "bible" was given to John the Baptist. So, if I believe that, would I not believe in "Historic Preservation"?

George Calvas said...

"Did they not believe they had an original language text? When they wrote the LBC in 1689, they referred to the original language text. Was there one? Of course there was."

So, was it Scrivners text that was being preached, taught and believed by the body of Christ? Did they use it to write hymns of the faith, sermons and such?

The arguments you pose for the words of God must be ubiquitous. Where IS the words of God that are used by the body of Christ throughout the world today? They are certainly not found in Greek and Hebrew bibles.

Kent Brandenburg said...

George,

You have a very deadly combination of being unbiblical and uncorrectable both. No one questions that translations are needed. That's in the confessions too, but the actual Bible was what God inspired. He didn't inspire English, because English wasn't a language at that time. You basically though are going to keep going with that though, believing a James White type of critique and then pendulum swinging to a weirdo Ruckman position that is unbiblical and actually a joke, just cuckoo. I know that it is unbiblical is worse, but it is so off that it is like looking at something modern art where the paint looks like it got spilled on the canvass. That you believe that is incredible and I can't help but look at you as the same as the position you are taking.

Kent Brandenburg said...

So when did the 66 books come together, 1611? How long was the world without a Bible? Your belief is incomprehensible, George. You believe that there are 66 books because of Revelation 22:18-19? OK.

No, you don't believe in historical or biblical preservation. You think it was lost and then restored, sort of like the Church of Christ thinks Christianity was lost and Mormonism believes Christianity was lost and the Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Christianity was lost and they restored it. You believe that something lost got restored in 1611. No, no one believed that until just recently. The first person I know was Peter Ruckman. I think he invented it, but I'm open to someone else being the author that he imitated. There is no way you could have gotten that position from scripture. It's concocted out of sheer cloth.

George Calvas said...

"You have a very deadly combination of being unbiblical and uncorrectable both"

No, Kent, you are obstinate and unbiblical (tit for tat). I have asked you and Ross a DOZEN times to produce TODAY the Greek text that is inspired and used by the body of Christ to preach, teach, believe, evanglize and put its faith in all the inspired words and you produce NOTHING!

So, spare me the "Ruckman" strawman. I believed the Holy King James Bible is the words of God and inspired BEFORE I even heard of Ruckman!! The bible taught me that, just as it taught the brothers who showed me AFTER I believed it to be true. I started using an NIV for 2 years after I got saved. I read the NT 4-5 times and God used it until I was in a bible study with others who were using a Holy King James Bible and while reading Ephesians 1-2, I began to see that something was wrong. The same way I received the truth of salvation BY FAITH, I received that the words of God found in the Holy King James Bible is the living words of the living God! All the words of God were not found in an NIV. Studying to show myself approved unto God and seeing that many in the body of Christ believed EXACTLY as I did (a multitude of council), I came to a biblical conclusion without wavering (33 years and counting!) that I have the very words of God and really could care less about where they were prior to that! I did not study this issue until another 3 years after I read my bible through about 5 times and then began to defend it against ALL attacks, which of course includes "TR" and "CT" men.

So you can stop with your insinuations. You knew nothing about how I came to that truth. Now you know, so stop your foolish accusations.

You and Ross are so full of yourselves, highminded and just TALK! You are exactly like the Pharisees who say and do not! You and Ross never once preached to anyone using a Greek and Hebrew text so you always are looking BACK (Jesus Christ warned you about looking back!) to find proof to prove what? The Spirit bears witness TODAY as to what are the very words of God! I preach them, for God is the I AM, not the "I WAS"!

There is plenty of proof concerning the words used in the Holy King James Bible that go all the way back to the Old Latin Bibles as well as the Waldansian latinized bibles, and the bible translation of the Italic church, so again you lay up some strawman to say that your preserved history is more correct than mine?? You cannot use history in conclusively prove ANYTHING. I know that words of God were preserved and inspired historically whether I prove that or not, for NO ONE can prove that there are errors in the bible that I have TODAY, the Holy Bible of the I AM THAT I AM!

Spare us your rhetoric and quit causing schisms in the body of Christ.

James Bronsveld said...

"White believes God can save you from all your sins, He can preserve you through the heights and the depths, but He couldn't do the same for His own Words."

He's safe to believe that, because that's easy. No one's coming back from the dead through history to challenge his position on God's preservation of the believer, so he doesn't have to worry about "evidence" contradicting his theological position on the perseverance of the saints. He can then claim "faith" while clinging to his evidentialism with both white-knuckled hands.

The position on perfect preservation of words is either dismissed as being fideistic (and we all know how carefully that must be avoided by believers!), or the strawman of "manuscript preservation" is raised and vigorously beat down. Once again, though, I see the very close kinship the Ruckmanites have with the textual critics. You would think they would be kinder to each other since their doctrines are really buttressed with the same presuppositions. Perhaps, though, it's the bickering of a long-married couple.

I think that the kinship is evident even in George's most recent comment here about "Scrivener's text," showing the (wilful) misunderstanding of the doctrine of preservation by portraying this a "manuscript [Scrivener's text] preservation" doctrine.

Also, White's complaining about "purposefully vague" ecclesiastical text positions is almost laughable due to his belief in the "preservation of God's Word (singular)" which allows his definition of "preservation" and of "Word" to grow or shrink and then grow or shrink again as time moves on and scholarship advances in its discoveries of new manuscripts. Additionally vague is their purpose for "reconstructing the text": They aren't actually aiming for a concretely perfect text, just a vaguely better one. And, as has been asked before: by what authority are they reconstructing the text that God in His infinite wisdom chose not to preserve?

I suppose it makes sense to the evidentialist mind of men like James White that the Author of Theology would not want the followers of His Theology to take a Theological position when it comes to the preservation of His Theology. And yes, that will begin the chorus of purposefully vague protests that "His concepts are preserved, just not the words themselves."

KJB1611 said...

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

Amen.

We have both answered George many times, but he does not listen, but acts like an unsaved person, consistent with his rejection of the Trinity for modalist idolatry.